Tom Burke (Australian politician)

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Tom Burke
Tom Burke.jpg
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Perth
In office
21 August 1943 – 10 December 1955
Preceded by Walter Nairn
Succeeded by Fred Chaney
Personal details
Born (1910-08-28)28 August 1910
Moora, Western Australia
Died 17 January 1973(1973-01-17) (aged 62)
Perth, Western Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Spouse(s) Madeline Muirson Orr
Children Terry Burke
Anne Field
Brian Burke
Francis John (Frank) Burke
Genevieve Strachan
Occupation Contractor
Religion Catholic

Thomas Patrick "Tom" Burke (28 August 1910 – 17 January 1973) was a member of the Parliament of Australia.

Burke was born at Berkshire Valley, near Moora, Western Australia. His birth name was Frederick Thomas, but he was informally renamed Patrick Thomas by his father, Peter Francis Burke, and he was always called Tom. He later formally changed his name to Thomas Patrick in 1963. He was educated by correspondence and at Miling State School and later worked as a cartage contractor while studying accountancy. In 1941, he married Madeline Muirson Orr. He enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force in January 1943 and served with the ground staff at Kalgoorlie.[1]

Political career[edit]

Burke was elected at the 1943 election to the House of Representatives seat of Perth, representing the Labor Party. Although he had high aspirations he was not selected for the ministry during the Curtin and Chifley governments. A member of the party's right wing, he was a strong opponent of H. V. Evatt; and in 1955, at the time of the split in the ALP, was banned from representing the Western Australian branch at federal conferences of the party. Nevertheless, unlike various other Labor right-wingers, he did not join the Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist) (later the DLP). At the 1955 election he was defeated by Fred Chaney.[1]

In 1957, Burke was expelled from the party, but seven years later he regained his membership. He failed to gain Labor pre-selection for Perth in 1965 and 1968. Instead, he promoted his sons' careers. Terry Burke became member for Perth from 1968 to 1987. Brian Burke became member for Balcatta in 1973 (later redistributed and renamed Balga) in the Western Australian Parliament and later served as state premier from February 1983 until February 1988, in which period the WA Inc events were commenced.

Tom Burke died of myocardial infarction in Perth on 17 January 1973, survived by his wife, three sons and two daughters.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Bolton, G. C. (1993). "Burke, Thomas Patrick (Tom) (1910 - 1973)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 19 February 2008. 
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Walter Nairn
Member for Perth
Succeeded by
Fred Chaney, Sr.